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Entries in Royal Society (153)


More climatologists for the Royal Society

The Royal Society has announced the latest cohort to be elevated to the fellowship. As always, the climatologists are prominent: with Ted Shepherd and Corinne Le Quere getting the nod. Adair Turner seems to have wheedled an honorary fellowship for himself as well. 


The Royal Society celebrates a hoaxer

The Royal Society has doubled down in its support for notorious scientific hoaxer Stefan Lewandowsky, inviting him to speak at the Royal Society at the end of February.

Following the recent Paris Climate Summit, countries from around the world have backed climate science and committed to reducing emissions. But for years, public and political uncertainty has delayed cooperation and action. Why has uncertainty had such a powerful psychological effect on us and why is it so damaging?
Join cognitive scientist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky to explore where climate change and human cognition collide and discover the science behind uncertainty.

Details here.

Rumours that the Royal intends to awarding a Queen's medal to Hwang Woo-Suk are said to be unfounded.



It's a few days old now, but I have been meaning to mention a rather interesting article at Times Higher Education. It's about a secret dossier government dossier, warning that fraud is rife in biomedical research:

The draft "Confidential dossier on fraud in UK biomedical research" concludes that some research institutes, university administrators, funders, journals and science leaders have been covering up malpractice.

THE has also got hold of a comment on the dossier from somebody at the Royal Society, who thinks that although the dossier may overstate the case, it recognises the twin problems of malpractice and it being covered up by scientific institutions.

Including, presumably, the Royal Society itself.


A royal conversion on the road to Damascus

The Guardian has a short piece in which various prominent fellows of the Royal Society discuss what they think new president Venki Ramakrishnan should do with his term of office, which kicks off soon. Most of it is rather dull, but Martin Rees's comments were interesting:

The Society should offer the public (and politicians) the best scientific assessment of controversial issues, without downplaying the uncertainties. Its policy work is crucial - and it’s good that Claire Craig, a scientist who is now one of Sir Mark Walport’s deputies, is joining the Society to head up this area of its work.

But when engaging with broader social or ethical issues, I think the Society should be wary of advocacy and should instead present options. It should encourage scientists to participate more actively in public debates on (for instance) responses to climate change, and the ethics of gene editing. But it shouldn’t take a collective stance on topics where there are seriously divergent views among experts, as well as non-experts.

Click to read more ...


Nurse's last hurrah

In a few days time Paul Nurse will be leaving his position at the helm of the Royal Society. I think it's fair to say that his time as President has not exactly been a success.

Evidence of the rot, and Nurse's determination to leave the society as a campaigning left-wing environmentalist organisation continues to emerge. It seems that he has committed it to a ten-year involvement in Future Earth, "a ten year international research platform providing the interdisciplinary knowledge needed to support the transition towards a sustainable and equitable world". It remains unclear to me how such political objectives are connected to the Society's purported role of "improving natural knowledge". Perhaps they should rename themselves the "Royal Society for Promotion of Equality".



Looney green tunes

Just when you thought our environmentalist friends couldn't become any more absurd, they have to go and outdo themselves. The editor of the Ecologist, Westminster and Oxford educated Oliver Tickell, son of the equally silly and equally posh Crispin Tickell (also Westminster and Oxford), has just written a post arguing that the Paris terrorist attacks were intended to disrupt the COP21 climate talks, driving up oil prices and putting petrodollars in the pockets of ISIS. Oh yes, and western oil interests were probably in on it too.

So, assuming - as seems probable at this stage - that the Paris outrage was carried out by or for ISIS, was it in any way motivated by a desire to scupper a strong climate agreement at COP21? And so maintain high demand for oil long into the future, together with a high oil price?

Let's just say that it could have been a factor, one of several, in the choice of target and of their timing. And of course ISIS was not necessarily acting entirely on its own. While not alleging direct collusion between ISIS and other oil producing nations and companies, it's not hard to see a coincidence of interests.

Blimey, he's so bonkers you half expect Paul Nurse to try to squeeze him into the Royal Society alongside Ehrlich.



The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice

There is a man that the Royal Society has chosen to honour not once but twice: first with a Wolfson Merit Award, and second with his own volume of their flagship journal. This post is about that man.

The man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice wrote a paper claiming that global warming sceptics believed that the moon landings were a hoax. This was despite the fact that his survey data had been collected at stridently anti-sceptic blogs. Worse,  his data showed precisely the opposite of what he claimed (and leaving aside that only ten of his 1145 respondents believed in the moon hoax anyway). Yes really - the man the Royal Society honoured not once but twice wrote a paper the title of which was completely, utterly and obviously refuted by his own data. This is a man who lied about the participants in his survey, the people who had given their time for scientific research.

Click to read more ...


Royal Society: "Please give it up for the rogues"

In a move no doubt timed to coincide with the Paris climate conference, the Royal Society's Phil Trans A has decided to hand over a full issue to that pillar of scientific integrity Stefan Lewandowsky.

You can imagine the calibre of author that Lew has chosen to enlighten us. There's Naomi Oreskes. There's James Risbey of "let's just's make stuff up about climate sensitivity" fame. There's a guy from the Environmental Defense Fund. Quite the collection of rogues and an astonishing step for an allegedly scientific journal to take.

The willingness of academic institutions to stand behind wrongdoers is always a wonder to behold. Why do they do it?



A private communiqué

The hijacking of learned institutions by political activists is something of a theme at BH, and today's news brings further depressing evidence that the situation has not changed. It seems that the managers of a group of UK learned societies have decided to try to influence the political agenda ahead of the Paris conference, issuing a joint call to arms (another one!), no doubt without consulting a single one of their members.

The communiqué opens with a decidedly shonky statement about the scientific evidence:

The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the climate is warming and that human activity is largely responsible for this change through emissions of greenhouse gases.

Click to read more ...


Learned societies and Stalinism

Marcia McNutt, the editor of Science magazine and the author of a recent, moderately bonkers editorial about climate change (discussed by Judith Curry here) has been nominated to be the next head of the US National Academy of Science.

OK, so "learned society led by politically active environmentalist" is not news, but what about this.

Under Academy's bylaws, other candidates could be nominated by NAS members, but that has never happened. McNutt’s name will be presented to the full membership for formal ratification on December 15, the Council said.

Yes, that's right. The NAS uses the electoral system pioneered by Stalin and popularised by the Kim family and the Royal Society: one member, one vote, one candidate.

When will they learn?


The Royal Society does glacier melt

About a fifth of the world's population relies on this glacier fed water every year for their drinking water, for sanitation, for irrigation for crops and for hydroelectric power. That's countries like India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.

Prof Neil Glasser of the University of Aberystwyth.

Professor Glasser was speaking in a video promoting the Royal Society's Summer Exhibition.

Unfortunately he seems unaware of the meteorological phenomenon known as "the monsoon". This confusion among glaciologists as to where precisely people in India get their water from has been apparent for some time now. This four-year old article refers to "creeping hyperbole" on the subject and even features Peter Gleick referring to "misinformation". Another scientist featured in that article was quoted as follows:

Click to read more ...


Sir Paul's new politicking

With his time at the helm of the Royal Society winding down over the rest of the year, Sir Paul Nurse must have been starting to wonder how he could continue his work as a political agitator once he no longer had access to the Royal Society's pulpit. News today reveals that he may be exploring new niches:

A high level group of scientists is to be recruited to provide independent advice to the European Commission.

The panel will supersede the role of chief scientific advisor that was controversially abolished last year by new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The commission wants also to strengthen its relationship with the national academies across Europe.

Sir Paul is going to be advising Mr Juncker on the recruitment of this group of scientists, so it will be interesting to see (a) if he ends up on the panel himself and (b) if its ranks are filled with the doomsters and millennarians whose company Sir Paul seems to find so congenial.



A strange fellow

Congratulations are due to Dame Julia Slingo, who has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Here is the citation:

Julia Slingo is a world-leading figure in the area of tropical climate processes and climate modelling. In her tropical research she has produced seminal work on the interaction between cumulus convection, weather systems, larger scale variability and the mean state of the atmosphere, and also on the interaction with the upper layers of the ocean. The Madden Julian Oscillation and the Asian Summer Monsoon have been two particular foci for her. She has led Met Office science and University climate modelling with great success and had major international influence, particularly in the move to much higher resolution climate models.


Diary date- Royal Society

A meeting at the Royal Society next week.

Are the greens after the chemists now or have they been  infiltrated already?



Golly, a biologist and not a warmist

When I first speculated about who might replace Paul Nurse at the helm of the Royal Society at the end of the year it was pointed out that the next man at the top should be from the physical sciences. Traditionally the Presidency alternates between the physical and biological wings. However, it was also noted that there was something of a dearth of suitably qualified physical scientists on hand - the society likes to have a Nobel prizewinner at the helm and we seem to be better at producing biologists than physicists.

It has now been announced that Nurse will be replaced by Professor Venki Ramakrishnan, a chemist who works in the medical sciences, but who has a degree in physics too.  According to the Royal Society, he was elected by a ballot of the members yesterday. One assumes that this featured the Soviet-style single-name ballot paper that saw Nurse and Prince Andrew elected, but it would be amusing to have confirmation.

Encouragingly a quick Google suggests that he has been admirably reticent to advance any views on global warming, the need for world government, or the merits of Nigel Lawson.